How to Get an Instant Divorce

I was once witness to the terrible consequences of loose talk, and have been very careful ever since.

This happened years ago. John and I were in the pub trying to chat up two girls who had already told us they were married.

I had seen this all before – girls who were married didn’t go out on the town by themselves. If they weren’t lying, then they were unhappily married. That was John’s theory, so we continued undeterred – and they seemed to like it (and us) – however, as the drinks flowed, talk got looser.

It turned out that Julie was indeed unhappy in her marriage, her husband was a useless unemployed drunk. She was fed up earning all the money and working long hours just so that he could lie on the couch all day drinking.

John had had a few by now. He knew he was too drunk now to make good any amorous advances, but his mind still worked, albeit without the usual constraints of caution, propriety and inhibition. This was one of those turning points. A game-changer.

He leaned forward and spoke so softly that we all had to lean in to glean what he was saying.

“I say you dump this guy and move on; you can do better for yourself and you’re not getting any younger.”

“But I can’t – he needs me, he depends on me…”

“No, no, not at all; you’re actually keeping him down. Cut him loose; it would be the best thing for him. Believe me.”

“But where would I go?”

“Go? No, you go nowhere – he goes.”

“But I can’t just throw him out without a reason.”

“Is he bad to you?”

“No, not really, he’s bad FOR me. As I said, he just does nothing. He’s always just lying there zonked out on the couch in front of the TV, a waste of space…”

“If I could tell you how to get rid of him in the quickest, easiest and most painless way possible, would you be interested to hear it?”

“I’m telling you he won’t go just like that, it won’t be easy …”

“But it could be; I know a way – and you’d be the hero too, you’d be the good guy and he’d be the bastard. Would you be interested in hearing the plan now?”

“Yes, I flippin’ would, because that’s nigh on impossible, John, seriously!”

“OK, here’s what you do: you go home, you find him zonked out on the couch as usual, dead to the world, right?”

“Right.”

“Right, so you carefully place the lamp on it’s side on the carpet, and do the same with ornaments, pictures, and whatever else you have. Make it look like there’s been a struggle and things have been knocked over. You can even extend the idea to another room, pour something on the carpet, whatever.”

“And all this while he’s drunk asleep on the couch?”

“Exactly. Now you need to rip your blouse, get your hair pulled this way and that, ruin your make-up. Girls can do wonderful things with make-up. All that matters is that you have to look like you’ve been beaten up in a big struggle. Then pick up the phone in the other room and cry and sob and wail down it that he’s gonna kill you and plead for help to the police.”

We all stopped and looked at John. Julie’s eyes were as big as her surprise could make them.

“But the police will arrive and wake him up – he’ll just say he didn’t do it…”

“Ah, but,” John said, “They won’t believe him – they’ll see you, they’ll see the state of the place, and they’ll drag him out of there in two seconds flat.”

I chipped in: “Just say he passed out waiting for you to come out from hiding or something.”

“But – and I’m only asking for the sake of argument – what would happen next? Wouldn’t he just get let off a warning or something” Julie asked.

“Well, the police will warn him not to visit you because you would have seen a lawyer.”

“A lawyer?”

“Yes, a lawyer – to stop this violence once and for all…”

“What violence?”

“All the months and years of suffering that he’s put you through, and that you so skillfully hid from the world. The physical and mental torture you kept behind closed doors, you poor thing!”

“Jeez. He’d deny everything…”

“Yeah, and who’s gonna believe an unemployed drunkard who beats his caring wife and then blacks out?”

And that is how the evening went. Drinks were drunk, thoughts were thought, drunks were ejected onto the street, into cabs, and home to sleep it all off. It was just chat, it was pub banter. We knew she wouldn’t have the gumption to carry out such a nefarious plan – who could?

Look, she must have loved the guy to get married in the first place. She must still love him if she’s been putting up with him as he is. And like most women, she probably thinks she can change him. And like most wives, she’ll be long-suffering.  If they don’t survive, or prevail, after a fashion, they’ll eventually split up somewhere down the line – because that is what happens.

That is what is supposed to happen.

But Julie did listen, and what she heard resonated within her. She had the power now, and she liked that. She could be proactive, she could pull the plug any time that she wanted, and that was excitingly empowering.

When she got home to find her once-beloved lying on the couch pissed, and beside him was a half-finished takeaway curry and a splash of vomit drying into her good carpet,  she realised that she was no longer in the mood for all this.

.oOo.

It was six months before I was back in that particular bar. I was early to meet up with a couple of pals I hadn’t seen since uni, and there she was in a booth. I caught her eye and nodded in polite recognition – the usual cursory acknowledgement before turning to the barman. She was suddenly beside me.

“I did it!” She pulled on my elbow.

“Eh? What? You did it?”

“Yeah – I did it. I got rid of Charlie!”

“Charlie?”

“Aw, don’t you remember? We were all here a few months back and your pal John came up with a scheme to help me get rid of Charlie…”

“Nah! No way! Are you saying you did one of John’s madcap schemes? You took all that seriously?”

“I am – and I did!” She beamed.

“Jeez. You seem happy on it…”

“I am indeed. Never been happier – I have a new man too.” She indicated a chap over in the booth. “He’s great. We’re great. Together. It’s night and day. John turned my life around – when’s he coming in?”

“Oh, he’s not – I am not meeting up with him tonight, just other pals as it happens.”

“Ah, well, I wish he was coming because I would just like to than him for being a genius!”

“Did it all go to plan then?”

“To the letter. Charlie didn’t know what hit him! You know what’s most funny about all this? Charlie believes he’s been blacking out and battering me. He believes it himself!”

“You’re joking!”

“No – it’s been the best thing for him too; he’s dried out, sorted himself out, turned his life around. He’s even about to start a wee job! I just cannot thank you two enough! If Charlie knew, he’d probably thank you too!”

And that was that. From a careless, half drunken rant, a dream schemed up on a lager’d evening to pass the time – an amusing diversion… to wham! And lives have changed forever! Cause and effect. Consequences.

And before you think that it all worked out for the best – just as Julie told me – it didn’t.

Julie’s was only one side of the story.

Charlie’s version was rather different as we found out later… but that’ll keep for another time.

 

Another One Bites The Dust

I am getting concerned now.

Another work colleague has died.

This one was a high speed collision involving a young BMW driver on the wrong side of the road on a fast bend, and my colleague on a motorbike, with his wife on the back.

Both on the bike died, there is a lot of speculation about what will happen to the young driver. It was particularly nasty as they found his head, still in helmet, quite some distance from the scene.

 

Bereavement and The Work’s Phone

I heard that James had died. It was sudden and unexpected. Everyone in the office was astonished – and then felt sad for his family. His daughter’s wedding day was near.

It had nothing to do with us, but someone at Head Office would have to sort out everything. The company car, mobile phone, clear his desk, do something with his e-mail and hard drive and who-knows-what-else – all would need to be dealt with as soon as possible to allow his family and friends to get on.

It’s not too callous, I hope, but the workload increased, and we were all too busy to dwell on such things.

Time passes quickly, and the company recruited a few new people who had never known James. I thought Alan was one of them, but it turned out that he did know James – and that he had worked at this company with James for years, many years ago.

Alan went through the usual forms and inductions, and was given a company phone, car and a desk with a laptop. Nothing unusual in all of this until last week.

Last week he started receiving weird phone calls from a sobbing woman. After a while he discovered that it was James’s daughter.

The company had given Alan James’s old phone and phone number, and James’s daughter had been regularly calling to hear her dad’s voicemail message – to hear his voice. This was a comfort to her. She’d been talking to him, leaving long and emotional messages about her wedding and then about her pregnancy.

When Alan answered, she got such a fright. She then realised that Alan could hear back her very personal messages – and that she would never again hear her daddy’s voice because Alan had erased the outgoing message with his own.

Of course, Alan, immediately erased all her recordings, and apologised as best he could.

Surely there ought to be some kind of procedure for this sort of thing? Something better than what happened here.

Is it better that Alan knew her, that he knew and worked with James? Or would it have been better had he been a complete new start to the firm?

A modern world brings modern ails.

 

Getting Started with My New Thing

I decided to get a new interest or hobby, and settled on playing around with computers for recording music.

A DJ pal years ago had software that let him compose dance music. He simply downloaded files – loops or whatever, and messed about with the software. He had no instruments, no inputs or anything to worry about; it was all self-contained.

We played about with various software packages, Cubase, Cakewalk, Reason, Fruity Loops, and Reaper, and they were easy enough to play with. I think we stumbled with driver at first, and it was frustrating for a while before everything settled down. I might be in for a rough ride.

I need to decide on software. And I need to find out how to get instruments plugged into the laptop. I only have one small jack input – which seems to be for both a mic and a set of headphones. How can I hear what’s going on if the socket is used up by a mic? Hmm?

Software first. This seems to be called a “DAW”. I have Audacity, but something better is needed.  Went along to a local studio and had a chat. They use Pro Tools on a Mac. It is expensive, but dead easy to use – very intuitive.

I scoured subreddits and after an afternoon reading on-line stuff, I saw Reaper as something everyone liked and used. It has a trial version, and for personal use it’s affordable. Perfect.

None of the stuff I looked at seemed to be much good with Linux, so I will have to use the old Windows 10 laptop which has less RAM. I downloaded Reaper.

To be honest, I couldn’t get Reaper to do anything. It’s just not working. I tooled about a  bit on line and downloaded/installed ASIO4ALL drivers from their website.

Next was the  lame_enc64.dll missing problem. I downloaded this file, but so far I’m not getting a peep. I had to download the user guide from Reaper’s site. This is going to take a while.

Hardware-wise, the studio nerds recommended some kit. I am considering my options with what to get.

It’s not much progress, I will admit, but I feel I have some of the foundations down.

My New Thing

I have decided to have a thing. I have not had a thing for ages because of children and work and grown-up stuff, and y’know.

I thought about returning to painting in oils – I still have a couple of easels, loads of palettes, knives, brushes, oil tubes – even metre squared canvases from the old days. The thing is it’s smelly and messy.  Oils take ages to dry, so you have a room full of conveyor belt canvases all at different stages of underpainting and prep. Nah.

The darkroom still has a sink, enlarger and all the gear – although I probably would toss out the chemicals and get fresh… but my wife has taken up photography, and is into it in a big way – fancy-dan digital cameras etc. I’m a bit lost with all that. Nah to that too.

Writing could be a thing – I have a list of what-I-think-are-brilliant ideas, but I don’t feel up to the commitment; I have found it to be all-engrossing, and work (and real life) would interfere and deter and something would have to give. So Nah again.

Well now – music! Of course!

My children are studying piano, and my wife and I still enjoy a wee jam of an evening from time-to-time. I could set up a little digital studio and play around with ideas.

I could perhaps dig out my old reels, minidiscs or the Teac 144 portastudio. There are loads of my old bands’ stuff on 4-track cassettes. Maybe I could transfer them into a digital form, clean them up and push out a clean mp3 file?

Yes. I have decided that this is what I shall do. My new thing will be music and recording onto a computer.

I need to think about where to begin as I know absolutely nothing about this.

Not Multi-Tasking Is The Way To Happiness

Recently, everything seems to be about “Balance”.

Yin and Yang. Work-Life Balance. I mean, what the heck is it? Do I need it? Do I want it? Is it possible? Why is it on blogs and all over magazines and tv screens?

If “balance” is like scales where the bad stuff is balanced by good stuff, sweet is in balanced harmony with sour, then of course, we’d all want it; nobody wants it all bad all the time, do they?

The thing is, what if you love what you do for a living? — Then work won’t seem like, well, work, and money would probably not seem all that important (because you’d do it anyway).

So “balance” could be about doing LESS of what you love, and that doesn’t sound very appealing to me.

Working all the time – however much fun – can be bad I suppose – if it is to the detriment of “downtime”, relaxation, sleep, strumming a guitar, playing with the kids, walking the dog, doing exercises and so on. We’re supposed to do these things even if they are not as much fun as work, strange as it may seem.

Thing is, I am not really good at doing a bit of everything all the time, or of allocating events and activities to a timetable. I seem to naturally gravitate toward the binge.

I have always pulled everything together at the very last minute. All my homework, coursework, reports, dissertations, whatever – they were all done at the last possible minute in a mammoth caffeine-fuelled single session. It seems to work for me. Maybe I think of “balance” in terms of the balance the tightrope walker has to have – the single-minded focus, the single session, the obsession of having to do one thing at a time.

And I don’t think I am unique; “balance” seems to be a goal.

Most in my office think of this “balance”, as a “balancing act” – like a juggler does. It seems that people have to juggle childcare, work, hobbies and more, with everything vying for time, money and attention.

This is not balancing your personal work-life stuff, this is about managing externally generated stuff imposed upon you.

I get that. How I have dealt with this in my life is to stick with my nature and binge. I am naturally inclined to give my children quality attention in concentrated spurts than always be around in a vague and half-attentive way. So I work too hard or too long, but then take time off.

I do not know if this is a good idea of a bad one, all I know is it works for me best that way!

(Thanks to Chloe for the inspiration for this)